von der Heyden Studio Theater at the Rubenstein Arts Center 2020 Campus Drive Durham,
“John Supko has designed a generative computer programme that can sift through a database of existing sounds and music, the rhythmic pulse of one piece acting as a frame around which the melodic or harmonic contours of another might find a new home.”
Is technology making or breaking our world? That question is central to THE_OPER&, a bold new opera to be developed and premiered at Duke University that uses the high-drama framework of opera and advanced technology to explore ideas of apocalypse, renewal, and survival in the modern age. During each performance, a computer system preloaded with video, sound, and poetic text fragments generates an original world, specific to the room and audience. That world eventually cedes to entropy, disintegrating from disaster and destruction until it falls into chaos, only to be rebuilt. The cycle repeats. A voice—the system’s—narrates the action, expressing the computer’s consciousness as a chorus of voices responds to the changing environment. The score moves from minimal and ambient to complex, industrial textures, a soundscape linked to the rise and fall and rise of the world within the room.
The team behind THE_OPER& (pronounced “the operand”) is an accomplished one. John Supko, a Duke music professor and acclaimed composer, partnered with Duke art professor and “recombinant poetics” pioneer Bill Seaman to build both text and music; Seaman also contributed high-definition video. Award-winning director and designer Jim Findlay, a frequent Duke Performances collaborator and a Duke alumnus, is the production designer and director. Narrated by Seaman and sung by Boston’s heralded eight-voice Lorelei Ensemble, THE_OPER& is a multidisciplinary collaboration that evokes the opera of Robert Ashley, the linguistic games of Raymond Roussel, and the experimental productions of Robert Wilson. An allegory for our uncertain times and an examination of our interface with the technology we create, THE_OPER& asks essential questions about the kind of future we may pursue.
Parking for Duke Performances presentations at the Rubenstein Arts Center is available directly across the street from the venue in the Campus Drive Lot, approximately a one-minute walk. The entrance to this lot is on Anderson Street, just north of Campus Drive, facing the west side of the Rubenstein Arts Center. A crossing guard will be stationed near the entrance of the Campus Drive lot before and after each show to allow you to cross the street safely.
Made possible, in part, with support from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation and the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts at Duke University.
A spellbinding mix of classic b-boy moves and contemporary dance, Australian choreographer Antony Hamilton and sound artist and dancer Alexander Macindoe’s Bessie Award-winning MEETING uses a mechanically improvised score as the starting point for a mesmerizing dance spectacle.